Obeying God or Government — Daniel 1

When Daniel and his three friends were commanded to eat the food (meat) and drink the wine from the king’s table, they showed wisdom when they knew they could not obey God and also the king’s command. Notice how they wisely obeyed God and disobeyed the king. They could have belligerently rebelled against the government where they now lived in exile or found a better way to disobey the king’s command. They found a better way to obey God and not offend the king and risk their lives.

They convinced the guard to feed them vegetables and water as a test, and if they looked no worse than the others who were in training, then no one would get in trouble with the king. If the guard brought them vegetables and water along with the king’s food and wine, and in the face of temptation they ate only the vegetables and drank water, then no one would get in trouble for disobeying the king’s command.

At the end of their ten-day test, they looked better than all the rest, “So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead” (Daniel 1:16).

Because they obeyed the Lord, “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds” (Daniel 1:17).

After three years, the king examined them and, “In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” (Daniel 1:20).

As believers who try to live according to the ways of Jesus and the Bible’s teachings, from time-to-time we may need to choose between obeying God and the government. We will need to pray for wisdom and courage and the right way to disobey. Who knows, by our way of obeying God, we may show others a better way, God's way.

You may want to discuss with your class some current laws or possible laws that a government might pass that a believer would need to disobey and how they might disobey wisely (as far as we know, the king never learned of the disobedience of Daniel and his friends, and God gave them greater wisdom).

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